Home to one of the world’s greatest wine regions, Napa Valley has sprouted more than 400 wineries, and it’s quickly also becoming a burgeoning locale to some of the best restaurants in the country. Here are some of the finest places to eat in this picturesque wine country area:
The Ox + the Fox
The Ox + the Fox is a great bar located in Napa, California. The bar has a full range of alcoholic beverages available, as well as a new menu with some great new dishes. The deviled eggs and sweet chili shrimp are two of the most popular dishes available. The bar is easy, low key, and perfect for locals and tourists alike. Prices are reasonable, and the service is superb. The bar was awarded the best new place to hang out in the Best of Napa Valley Awards for 2022.
Napa locals and visitors alike rave about Carpe Diem, a restaurant known for its excellent cocktails and food. Located just a block away from the Napa River, Carpe Diem offers a unique dining experience with its delicious food and refreshing cocktails. The Diver Scallops are a must-try, as well as the Heritage Berkshire Porkchop and the Squid Ink Black Fettucini. Dessert lovers will enjoy the Creme Brulee, and coffee lovers will appreciate the Espresso Martini.
The French Laundry
The French Laundry is a world-renowned Michelin-starred restaurant in Yountville, California. It is known for its exceptional hospitality, from the moment guests make a reservation to the time they leave. The restaurant was founded by Thomas Keller in 1978, and has since been awarded three Michelin stars.
Known for its use of fresh, seasonal ingredients and stellar wine pairings, meals include an amuse bouche of everything bagel with salmon mousse and capers, followed by the Oysters and Pearls dish, which is a seafood dish served with Krug Grand Cuvee. The French Laundry’s Garden Salad is paired with Franz Hirtzberger Gruner Veltliner, and the Lobster Galette is paired with Caroline Morey Blanc, while the Halibut is served with hollandaise sauce.
Meals conclude with a smorgasbord of desserts like a chocolate truffle, but the true highlight of the experience is meeting Thomas Keller, who greets each table, in addition to the staff, who give guests a tour of the bright, clean, and well-organized kitchen. The French Laundry is definitely a bucket-list dining experience.
Olive & Hay
One of Napa Valley’s newer additions for farm-fresh fare, Olive & Hay, opened its doors in 2020. The restaurant centers around the journey of each ingredient, fusing homemade and homegrown, modern and classic, innovative and traditional Italian cuisine. The feel is casual yet refined, while incorporating rustic accents, but providing a modern approach on wine country cuisine.
The restaurant offers a variety of Italian dishes that are sure to please any palate. The chicken deserves a mandatory tasting, as well as the Italian donut with hazelnut sauce. The staff is attentive and friendly, ensuring that you won’t be disappointed with your experience at this eatery. If you’re looking for a great meal while in Napa Valley, look no further than Olive & Hay.
The Dutch Door
The Dutch Door is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Napa Valley that is known for its scratch kitchen. The restaurant sources its ingredients from local sources and makes its food from scratch every day. The Dutch Door has a meat and vegan menu with the majority of the vegan options made in-house. Dessert options include a chocolate chip cookie and delicious brownie. The restaurant is also known for its fresh-baked bread, which is delivered every morning.
The Dutch Door is a great place to get a vegan meal that delivers both savory and complex flavors and is an overall great place to eat if you are looking for a casual dining experience.
La Cheve is a family-owned Mexican bakery and restaurant in Napa, California, and offers a wide range of baked goods, brunch and lunch options, as well as over 50 craft beers. The restaurant specializes in fresh, Mexican-style baked goods, including conchas, chilaquiles, tortas planchadas de asada and tacos de al pastor. Foodies will appreciate a wide range of breakfast items, including mimosas de Jamaica, flan French toast and vegan French toast. La Cheve’s Micheladas are made with the restaurant’s house-brewed American Dream Mexican Lager.
The cafe de olla at La Cheve is a must-try for coffee lovers, while the horchata is also a standout, with its homemade flavor and strong hints of rice and cinnamon.
La Cheve is located a little south of downtown Napa. The decor has a vintage Mexican feeling, with saltillo tile floors, beamed ceilings and a beautiful wood terraza for outdoor dining. If you’re looking for a delicious Mexican meal, La Cheve is an outstanding find.
Kenzo Napa is a Japanese restaurant from Kenzo and Natsuko Tsujimoto, focusing on an authentic, traditional Kaiseki menu. With seafood selections flown in daily from Japan, the menu offers a variety of Edomae Sushi and Kaiseki dishes. The prix fixe menu is $225 per person and includes nine courses.
Striving for seasonal, peak-quality ingredients, which are flown in daily from Japan, Kenzo Napa’s presentations are attractive and well-executed. The dishes are expertly paired with the full Kenzo Estate wine collection, Japanese sakes, and beers. The restaurant is located in Napa, in a unique complex and building featuring Asian architecture. The inside is minimalist with elegantly crafted wood, and the bar area is set up with enough seating to accommodate a large family. The music is on the ambient side, quiet and instrumental, allowing full focus to be on the food.
Folktable, a farm-to-table restaurant in Sonoma, offers casual culinary experiences with seasonally inspired menus and fresh ingredients sourced from organic farms and local purveyors.
The Black Truffle Hand Pies, consisting of confit chicken, mushroom, onion, fennel, black truffle butter, and truffle salt, are a must-try. The Herbed French Fries, served with a citrus aioli, are worthy of a sampling. The Seasonal Market Salad, consisting of kale, chard, pickled cherries, marinated fennel, pistachios, ricotta salata, and sumac dressing, tastes fresh with a burst of fennel. The fall squash and smoked gouda conchiglie is a fancy take on the popular household staple that is mac’n’cheese. The staff and service are always impeccable.
FolkTable focuses on farm-to-table and sourcing their ingredients from local organic purveyors. If you’ve come to Sonoma looking for tasty food and ambiance, you’ve come to the right place.
Wit & Wisdom
Nestled inside The Lodge Sonoma Resort, Wit & Wisdom is the perfect place to enjoy a meal with family and friends, relax after a long day of wine tasting, or simply enjoy a glass of wine and some light bites. The decor is chic and modern, the ambiance is comfortable and casual, and the staff is friendly and attentive. The menu features seasonal California cuisine, and the wine list is robust and impressive.
The crispy duck fat potatoes are delicious and the pappardelle Caccio e Pepe is a hearty dish that’s an instant hit. The Hummingbird cake is a bit dense but is a sweet finish to any meal. Whether you’re looking for a casual lunch spot or a place to celebrate a special occasion, Wit & Wisdom is the ideal dining experience in Sonoma.
Southside is a community-centered cafe and coffee bar in Napa Valley. It has three cafes across the Valley: Carneros, Yountville and Century in South Napa. The cafes serve a chef driven menu of real California cuisine with a latin influence, along with specialty coffee from Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters and beer & wine from friends in the Napa Valley.
Southside Carneros is the original location on Old Sonoma Road where it all started. Southside Yountville at Stewart Cellars features an outdoor courtyard in the heart of Wine Country. Southside Century is the newest location in South Napa and is conveniently located right across from the movie theater. All locations are open for breakfast, lunch, coffee and to-go items. Southside Century is also open for dinner and features a blended juice bar.
The food is fancy, the setting is casual and the dining experience is simple yet efficient – you order at the counter, find yourself a seat, and they bring your food and drinks when it’s ready. The cuban panini and chiaquilles are delightful and flavorful, while the omelette, which includes mushrooms and asparagus, is also memorable and hearty. Portions, overall, are on the lighter and smaller side. The oat grain snacks include seven grains and are mixed with egg white, which serves as a healthy alternative. The coffee hits the spot as does the agua Fresca, which is infused with pineapple coconut and lemongrass.